Although many potty-training tips apply to boys and girls alike, potty training boys does pose some unique challenges. Whether you're wondering when to start potty training boys, whether to teach sitting or standing first, and how to encourage good aim, readers have offered great toilet-training tips to help you potty train boys with confidence.
1. Be Patient
As eager as you may be to ditch the diapers, many moms stress the importance of delaying toilet training until your son is ready. Amanda G. shares, "There really is no right age. Just keep your eyes open for signs of readiness." Jessica D. agrees: "My little boy is a little over 3-and-a-half, and he just now decided he wanted to potty train. . . . He will do it when he is ready; just be patient and give lots of encouragement." Common signs of potty-training readiness (which generally appear between age 2 and 3) include asking questions about the bathroom and toilet, staying dry for longer periods of time (indicating stronger bladder control), wanting to wear "big kid" underwear, or telling you when he's soiled a diaper.
2. Try Sitting First
"Start out by sitting, and then move to standing," advises Michelle L., one of many moms who recommend first teaching boys to urinate while sitting before graduating to standing lessons. In addition to simplifying the learning process, Melissa V. shares that starting with sitting can minimize messes: "There are little toilet seats that fit onto the regular toilet seat. It makes it smaller so he won't fall in, and there's a little cup on the front so he can't miss the toilet." Tarsha D. adds that sitting may also be the most practical option based on the height of your little one. "I'm a mom of four boys, and I taught all of mine to sit first (especially my second son; he was so short he coudn't even reach the toilet bowl)."
3. Let Him Watch Dad
The standing element is an obvious challenge for potty training boys. When your son is ready to learn to pee standing up, several readers, including Alicia O., recommend having an older male relative set an example. "Let him follow daddy around or older siblings; seeing other boys like him use the toilet might motivate his interest."
4. Give Him a Target
In addition to having another male demonstrate, one trick many moms share is to using a ping-pong ball for the target (don't worry, it won't flush away).
5. Take It Outside
With five sons, Lisa B. definitely speaks from experience when she suggests incorporating outdoor time into potty training boys. "I think potty training boys is easiest when done in the warmer months of Spring and Summer. Pick a tree in the backyard and have fun! They learn quite quickly."
6. Motivate Your Child
Continual motivation and reminders are very important for potty training boys, as active toddler boys may not want to stop what they're doing in order to use the toilet or stay on the toilet long enough to relax and go. Tips from readers for motivating boys include buying "big-kid" underwear that he'll want to keep clean, having special toys and books for potty time, and offering plenty of praise and prizes. "[We] made a chart with stickers so whenever he would use the potty we would let him put the sticker on the chart, and at the end of the week, if he had 10 stars we would take him to the store and buy him a little toy. It didn't take long to have him completely potty trained," says Cassie J. "Try using temporary tattoos! That's how I got mine to like going to bathroom. Then when [he] saw the tattoo, it reminded him and he was proud to show them off!" offers Carol G.
Looking for more tips? From communities about raising boys to articles on bed-wetting in older children, Circle of Moms is a helpful source for parenting information, whether you're a parent to infants, toddlers or school-age children. Try joining the community based on your child's month and year of birth to connect with other moms currently going through the same challenges and exciting developments.